Emotional well-being in school is important for students' future success.

Why students’ emotional well-being in school is tied to their success


A new report outlines how positive emotional well-being in school can help students develop the right skills to excel in higher ed and the workforce

Alongside growing awareness about the benefits of social and emotional learning (SEL), new research from Microsoft demonstrates once again that emotional well-being in school is a strong predictor of academic and workplace success.

The Microsoft report addresses the growing role artificial intelligence has in the labor market, and emphasizes the way skills such as emotional regulation, empathy, collaboration, and creativity (often also called soft skills) will help prospective employees stand out to potential employers. Developing those skills starts in school.

Read more: 10 activities to integrate SEL into your classroom

Helping students maintain positive emotional well-being in school aids in the development of these important skills, the Microsoft survey demonstrates.

Eighty percent of the 762 surveyed educators believe positive emotions are critical for academic success, and 80 percent also say emotional well-being is crucial for developing foundational literacies and communication skills.

Seventy percent say students’ emotional well-being in school has become more important for K-12 students since the surveyed educators started their careers in education.

Only about half of surveyed educators (53 percent) say their school has an explicit emotional well-being policy in place, but 23 percent say they are developing a policy. Twenty-one percent encourage emotional well-being without having a policy in place, and 3 percent have no policy and no plans to develop one.

Sixty-four percent of surveyed teachers want to support students’ emotional well-being in school, but lack the resources or time, while 71 percent believe change needs to come from the leadership level.

Read more: 5 easy ways to get parents involved in SEL

The top three technologies that support students’ emotional well-being in school include:

  • Educational applications or software, because they complement and extend the learning experience (58 percent)
  • Collaboration tools, because learning is social (49 percent)
  • Data and analytics about student emotional states, because visibility leads to accountability (46 percent)

Emotional well-being is maximized inside and outside the classroom

In the classroom, a majority of educators value students’ emotional well-being in school:

  • 93 percent believe they have a social learning focus in class
  • 82 percent believe students benefit from challenges they can overcome
  • 75 percent believe a feeling of community and belonging impacts academic success

Students’ emotional well-being in school is influenced outside the classroom, too:

  • 79 percent of surveyed educators think positive, stable relationships are important to academic success
  • 82 percent think extracurricular activities have a positive effect on well-being
  • 83 percent think a supportive home environment impacts emotional well-being in school

A global view of emotional well-being in school

Positive emotional well-being is important across all the countries included in the survey. Sixty-seven percent of schools in Asia encourage development of emotional literacy in the classroom. Sixty-six percent of teachers in North America say they incorporate principles of emotional literacy in their classroom.

Latin American educators see long-term benefits to positive education–65 percent of Latin American educators agree that emotional well-being is important for developing healthy adults and responsible citizens, compared to 42 percent of the rest of the world.

Laura Ascione

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